65% of India’s population stands at below 35 years of age – the much touted “demographic dividend”. India adds 1 million people to its labour force every month, necessitating the creation of 12 million jobs a year. The recent ILO report states that unemployment in India will marginally increase over the next two years. In this context, and to ensure that the demographic dividend does not turn into a demographic disaster, it is necessary to explore opportunities to tackle burgeoning unemployment.
The government can tackle unemployment:
- By removing the bottlenecks that make agricultural non-remunerative – since 50% of the population depends on agriculture, resulting in widespread disguised unemployment.
Increasing contract farming, better farm-to-lab connect, provision of adequate extension services, better price discovery through National Agricultural Market, better farm credit and insurance through NABARD and PMFBY etc are some of the initiatives that have been taken.
- 2. Increasing formal sector jobs in labour intensive sectors such as construction, which absorb the excess rural labour from agriculture. Giving a fillip to public spending in infrastructure will help in this. Labour reforms on the lines of those implemented by Rajasthan and Gujarat will be needed.
- Concerted efforts to increase the Ease of Doing Business to promote Make In India. Steps taken include Shramev Jayate Karyakram, single window clearances, EoDB dashboard under DIPP, implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) etc.
- Boosting schemes that promote entrepreneurship – Start Up India, Stand Up India, Atal Innovation Mission, Self Employment and Talent Utilization – “to enable the youth to become job creators instead of job seekers” have been put in place.
- Amending the relevant acts, as well as providing the necessary facilities (safety, transport, crèches etc.) that enable women to work in factories and the manufacturing sector.
- By promoting cottage industries and providing credit to them via initiatives such as NABARD’s Self-Help-Group Bank Linkage Programme (SHG-BLP). By revamping the textile industry, which is the biggest job-creator outside agriculture. By promoting traditional crafts via schemes such as USTTAD.
- By imparting appropriate, employable skills to the workforce. Skill India is the umbrella initiative in this regard. Indian workers can be sent to other countries which are experiencing a shortage of workers due to their demographics. Recent launch of Pravasi Kaushal Vikas YOjana (PKVY) targeting Indian youth seeking overseas employment is a good step.
- There needs to be a comprehensive National Employment Policy which sets the roadmap for employment generation within the economy, as mandated by the ILO for all signatory nations. Appointing a National Jobs Advisor to the PMO will direct the government’s initiatives towards a coherent objective of job-creation.
- Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for 45% of Indian manufacturing output and contribute 8% to India’s GDP. Measures to alleviate their problems and make it easy for them to scale up and expand will create substantial employment across the country, instead of skewed employment resulting from incentives to big corporate and MNCs.
- Boosting investment in Railways, automobiles, transport and logistics sectors can create lots of skilled as well as unskilled jobs via backward as well as forward linkages.
- Exports form a major part of India’s foreign exchange earnings. Promoting exports according to India’s competencies will lead to creation of employment in various export-oriented sectors. Reviving SEZs can be a step in this direction.
However, the creation of jobs will not occur without a healthy workforce, and a healthy workforce is possible only with proper interventions in healthcare and education at all stages, especially during childhood. With proper nurturing and a holistic approach, a young India can step up to provide the world the workforce that it so desperately needs.